Slavoj Žižek on Japan

(via Kevin, via néojapanisme)

There is a nice little piece in Néojapanisme about the empty meaning of shazai kaiken (apology conferences) in Japanese culture.

In making this apology, Shingo was, to borrow Heidegger’s phrase, simply “doing what one does, as one does,” that is, behaving in a typical way that conforms to the prejudices of the group. The apology itself is meaningless — in fact, impractical — as there were no victims in the first place, no amends to be made.

Which links on to a piece by Slavoj Žižek where he discusses his impressions of Japan. Well worth plodding through (emphasis mine):

What I see in Japan, and maybe this is my own myth, is that behind all these notions of politeness, snobbism etc. The Japanese are well aware that something which may appear superficial and unnecessary, has a much deeper structural function. A Western approach would be: who needs this? But a totally ridiculous thing at a deeper level might play a stabilizing function we are not aware of. Everybody laughs at the English monarchy, but you’ll never know.

It’s written in that ‘european intellectual’ style that i’m finding increasingly hard to follow – so many references to ‘isms’ and ‘ians’ that seem like they might once have been familiar, but are now fading away.

Perhaps it’s just the internet opening up vistas on an ever increasing breadth (i’ve always hated that word… it seems nightmarish to me!) of knowledge. Stretched ever thinner, one of these days i’ll split… assuming the form of netting at an alien sex fiend gig.

(see also: http://neojaponisme.com/2008/05/19/orthopraxy-and-web-addresses/)